THREE FACTS: (1) Jenna + Mat have known each other all their lives – they met when they were both one-year-old at a baby class! (2) Their relationship began at the University of Arizona in March 2012 (3) Mat proposed at Jenna’s parents house in December 2018
I have to say I struggled with this blog post. There hasn’t really been any update in regards to my wedding planning progress, as we were set to be married on September 6, 2020 and postponed to June 13, 2021, so we have been mostly set with our planning process. It has also been hard to get the little details done when my fiancé and I live across the country from where we are getting married. Things feel pretty much the same as when I wrote my last blog post about our postponed wedding weekend and Mat’s birthday.
We have been doing things, like the occasional brunch outside, socially distant weekend afternoons spent with friends in our building, exploring our neighborhood by letting the streetlights tell us where to go on our walks, or taking the ferry between Brooklyn and Manhattan. I guess the main life update for us has been regarding my job becoming a fully remote position. That for sure has been a big change for me and has taken a lot to wrap my head around. With so much changing in the world and my own life, I’ve needed things to keep me feeling grounded.
One has been cooking and especially baking (if you are not a member of the Bride’s Club, join and you will get access to the recordings of the Pumpkin Spice Roll Challah virtual bake I am leading on 11/7) and choir – well, virtual choir.
I love singing and music – my grandfather was a cantor, and I remember him making cassette tapes of different classical pieces for me and as I got older, showing me old classic musicals on VHS (I think I clearly dated myself as a ‘90s kid right there). My grandfather also used to be a dancer and actor, so theatre, music, singing, and even classical music I developed a love for from a young age. I remember the first thing I really ever played on piano being me plucking out the tune to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony theme ‘Ode to Joy’ when I was maybe 5-years-old.
It wasn’t fancy, just me finding the notes by ear to what I was listening to on the cassette. I’ve been in choir ever since my Jewish day school started a choir when I was in 5th grade, and I continued throughout high school, and even a year into college. After too many years without choir, I found the synagogue my fiancé and I now belong to, Town and Village Synagogue.
I attended in the summer not long before the High Holy Days and learned they had a choir that would participate in the High Holy Day services. The choir was amazing and so was the cantor, who heard me doing my harmonies during Friday night services and asked me if I would join. Fast forward from 2016 to 2020, and I had just finished my 3rd year of being in the synagogue choir.
Choir was on a bit of a hiatus by March when the world first went into quarantine and lockdown – we had just finished Shabbat Shira, the Shabbat of Song, when we read the Shirat Hayam in the Torah, the song the Israelites sang as they crossed the Red Sea during the Exodus. We knew then and there that there would be no North American Jewish Choral Festival for us to attend that summer, but none of us knew what this all meant for the High Holy Days.
The High Holy Days are important both as a congregant and as a choir member – for one, they are the three holiest days of the year, but for the choir, it was meaningful too in that we helped to add something special to the experience of our fellow congregants in coming to the synagogue for those three days. As most everything in the world became virtual, so too did our choir.
I remember the first time I had experienced a virtual choir – I wasn’t a participant, but I came across a YouTube video that Eric Whitacre, an American composer, had done of a virtual choir singing one of his pieces. I happened across the video as I had sung that very same piece, Sleep, in choir in high school, and I had been looking for it to listen to while I likely did work or cleaning or something.
It’s one of those pieces that just gives you all the feels, and hearing the sheer number of people participating in this piece virtually from all over the world, it just transports you to a whole new place. Now, our choir isn’t big by all means, nor are we all technically savvy. But we pushed through and recorded four pieces that we shared during the Slichot service leading up to Rosh Hashanah (as although High Holy Days would streamed on Zoom virtually, we still would not play the pieces during the service). Hearing our not perfect virtual choir though felt comforting in a way I can’t explain.
Now that it is November, we would have well been underway preparing for our annual Cantor’s Concert in December, and thanks to Zoom, we are! Our cantor selected some beautiful music, we have an amazing guest, and even our Junior Choir is participating (virtually) as well. While it may not be the same as being in person and our little virtual choir is nowhere near perfect, it feels nice to have these things to look forward to again. I didn’t realize all summer how much I was missing music and being together until we hit August, when we would have begun those preparations for the High Holy Days.
I am so grateful for all the extra hours our cantor is putting in to make this possible and to allow us to come together and make beautiful music. Who knows how long it will be before we can be back together for things like choir, Broadway or the West End, and even large weddings with no restrictions? However, knowing that we can still come together in this way, virtually, is comforting. It is helping me get through these uncertain times and have things to look forward to that bring me joy.
So find those things you can do virtually: like join a crafting group over Zoom (we have one in the Bride’s Club!), get a group together to virtually play Mahjong, bake virtually over facetime with your friend in another state or even country (I’ve been doing this with a friend and bridesmaid who lives in Georgia), join virtual cooking and baking events, join a virtual book club, and so much more! While virtual is not ideal, it still feels so nice and comforting knowing there is a community out there with you coming together any way they can to feel connected.
Click here to read all Jenna’s planning posts to date.
Jenna & Mat’s Wedding Vendors booked so far:
Photography – Shelley Welander of She.We Studios
Videography – Tad of TS Cinema
Wedding venue – The Lodge at Ventana Canyon
Cake: Ambrosia Cakes
Hair: Sharon Walton (family friend & hairdresser)
Makeup: Amanda Nolan (freelance)
DJ: Fantastic Five Entertainment
Rabbi: Rabbi Billy Lewkowicz
Invitations: purchased, but not yet completed from Minted
Dress: Grace Loves Lace
Suits: The Black Tux
Florist: SavOn Flowers (not yet booked officially)
Ketubah: Susie Lubell on Etsy (shop name: SusieLubell)
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